Skip to content

Feasibility of Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology for Railway Intercity Services: A Case Study for the Piedmont in North Carolina


Diesel fuel combustion results in exhaust containing air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. Many railway vehicles use diesel fuel as their energy source. Exhaust emissions, as well as concerns about economical, alternative power supply, have driven efforts to move to hydrogen motive power. Hydrogen fuel cell technology applied to railways offers the opportunity to eliminate harmful exhaust emissions and the potential for a low- or zero-emission energy supply chain. Currently, only multiple-unit trains with hydrail technology operate commercially. Development of an Integrated Hybrid Train Simulator for intercity railway is presented. The proposed tool incorporates the effect of powertrain components during the wheel-to-tank process. Compared to its predecessors, the proposed reconfigurable tool provides high fidelity with medium requirements and minimum computation time. Single train simulation and the federal government’s Greenhouse gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy use in Transportation (GREET) model are used in combination to evaluate the feasibility of various train and powertrain configurations. The Piedmont intercity service operating in North Carolina is used as a case study. The study includes six train configurations and powertrain options as well as nine hydrogen supply options in addition to the diesel supply. The results show that a hydrail option is not only feasible, but a low- or zero-carbon hydrogen supply chain could be possible.

Funding source: This study was funded by the North Carolina Department of Transportation.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: United States

Article metrics loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error